Taoiseach Micheál Martin has stated that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will cease to exist as a separate body over time.
Martin stated that the role of NPHET and the vaccine taskforce will be transitioned into the normal functions of the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
While saying that “we are not going to eliminate this virus”, Martin said that the Chief Medical Officer and the discipline of public health are critical to deal with the pandemic going ahead, as well as wider public health challenges.
He went on to say how a stronger public health function has to be one of the key legacies of the pandemic.
Although the high priority given to public health advice will remain, the Taoiseach said that it has to be part of a stronger public health capacity as part of the Department of Health.
The budget for public health has been doubled and 150 posts have been allocated, which includes the first-ever consultant posts in public medicine, and a director of public health medicine is to be created as a new role.
An evaluation of the government’s approach to the pandemic will also be undertaken.
Martin stated that the evaluation will not seek to apportion blame but ensure that future emergencies will require people to work “flexibly and fast”.